Béarnaise sauce is one of the sauces that you will have to master to be good at classic French cookery. Its richness and creaminess make it a versatile ingredient that you can use on many proteins and vegetables. If you can’t use or don’t want to use this sauce, here are some Béarnaise sauce substitutes to try.
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Your best bet: Hollandaise sauce
The classic emulsion sauce that spawned Béarnaise and a variety of other warm, silky French sauces is Hollandaise sauce. Because it is made by combining ingredients that normally wouldn’t blend well — butter and egg yolks — it has many properties in common with Béarnaise, which is made with a similar set of ingredients. For starters, the ideal textures of both sauces are identical, and they are equally difficult to make.
One of the big differences between Béarnaise sauce and Hollandaise sauce is the inclusion of fresh ground pepper and aromatics like tarragon and shallots in the former. You can use Hollandaise sauce as a Béarnaise sauce substitute if you want a subtler flavor profile or if you intend to add the aromatics to it or the dish separately from the sauce.
A decent second choice: Beurre blanc
A beurre blanc is another emulsified French sauce that uses butter, acidic ingredients and shallots to provide some of the same savory qualities that you want from a Béarnaise sauce. Beurre blanc uses white wine vinegar just like Béarnaise sauce, which means that it will have a similar sharpness. Beurre blanc is used in many of the same ways as Béarnaise sauce. For example, it works as a topping for seafood and vegetables.
There are a few differences between beurre blanc and Bearnaise sauce such as the need to use cold butter when making beurre blanc as opposed to the warm melted or clarified butter used in Béarnaise. Also important is the fact that it contains no egg yolks, which results in a lighter sauce.
In a pinch: Mayonnaise
Sauces in the Béarnaise and Hollandaise family are sometimes referred to (possibly disparagingly) as hot mayonnaise. They have a lot in common. Like Béarnaise, mayonnaise is an emulsion sauce that relies on egg yolks, fat and vinegar for its silky consistency and sharp flavor.
The big difference between mayonnaise and Béarnaise is of course that mayonnaise is a cold sauce. The temperature may make it unsuitable for some of the dishes that require Béarnaise sauce. Famed French chef Auguste Escoffier referred to it as a mother sauce but for cold sauces.
Mock Béarnaise is a quick and easy version of the sauce that uses premade mayonnaise as its foundation. Tarragon and other aromatics are added along with egg yolks or mustard to provide the rest of the flavor profile.
Normande sauce may be used as a substitute for Béarnaise sauce. Its main ingredient is another of the French mother sauces called velouté sauce. Velouté sauce is also known as sauce velouté and consists of a stock thickened by a blonde roux. Normande sauce is made by adding cream and egg yolks to a velouté sauce to make it more like Béarnaise sauce. Some versions are made with lemon juice, which ups the acidity and makes the sauce an even closer match for Béarnaise.
Despite its name (which means German sauce), Allemande sauce is firmly within the tradition of French fine cuisine and its emulsion sauces. It uses egg yolks and heavy cream to create a thick and creamy sauce commonly served with vegetables or chicken.